The Green Jobs "Myth" by David Atkins

The Green Jobs "Myth"
by David Atkins ("thereisnospoon")

Increasingly when you talk to voters here in California about jobs and the economy, you'll hear a consistent refrain: "green jobs" are a joke. They don't exist, they're a boondoggle, etc. They know this because they hear it everywhere, so they know it must be true. Also, too, Solyndra! And yet, reality sometimes breaks through:

California has 1 in 4 U.S. solar energy jobs, study says

The National Solar Jobs Census 2011 says job growth in the industry grew 6.8% in the one-year period ended in August, and a survey of solar employers suggests employment will rise by 24%, creating 24,000 jobs, during the next year.

One in every four solar energy jobs in America is held by a Californian, and growth in the clean-tech industry is burgeoning nationwide, a new study said.

In August, California had an estimated 25,575 solar-related jobs out of 100,237 for all 50 states, according to the National Solar Jobs Census 2011. The census is scheduled for release Monday by the Solar Foundation, a research and education organization in Washington.

California's solar jobs tally was more than four times greater than runner-up Colorado, which had 6,186 solar jobs.

The Golden State ranked first in the nation for generating electricity from both photovoltaic solar panels and concentrated solar power systems that use mirrors to create steam to run turbines, the study said.

"This report shows that the solar industry is not only creating green jobs across California but that the industry is forecast to continue growing at a much faster pace than the overall U.S. economy," said Michelle Kinman, a clean energy advocate for Environment California. "California industry and policymakers have a tremendous opportunity to build on this solid foundation and make solar a centerpiece of the state's energy policy."

"Green jobs" are no panacea for the unemployment problem. Some on the left got carried away with the rhetoric from time to time and gave the impression that our jobs plans relied entirely on jobs in sustainable energy.

But the reality is that these sorts of investments take a little time to come to fruition. When they do, the benefits can be dramatic. Not only will California's solar energy industry create lots of good-paying jobs for both blue and white collar workers, but energy costs will come down in a largely environmentally friendly way.

The "right to work" states that are stripping away all environmental and labor regulations are burning through their middle class and the structural supports of a fair economy in the pursuit of immediate economic benefit for the super-wealthy, combined with a few more minimum wage crumbs for the rest. But over the long run progressive states like California will win out with a more vibrant economy because of the investments they've made in infrastructure and quality of life.

That is why blue states largely remain such attractive places to live in spite of high property values that often drive people away, and it's a fact that will become increasingly clear no matter how much propaganda is thrown out there to the contrary.